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Article
We collaborated with Early Head Start (EHS) coaches to qualitatively explore the feasibility delivering a professional development approach designed to enhance the quality of conversations in infant-toddler (I/T) classrooms and family child care homes. First, we reviewed empirical literature about oral language discourse skills in infants and toddlers. Second, we examined the frameworks and evaluation tools EHS practitioners and programmes used to guide conversations, e.g. the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework and the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interaction for Infants and Toddlers (Q-CCIIT) Scale. Third, we adapted the Conversation Compass© approach for ages birth to 24 months. Lessons learned were (1) teachers report that the Conversation Compass approach was user-friendly, (2) due to teachers’ limitations with computer skills the online course was difficult for them to complete independently, and (3) the approach can be used to facilitate and model conversation in mixed-age group settings with infants and toddlers.
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Rejection by peers has devastating effects on children’s social-cognitive development. As language difficulties have been found to be one of the underlying causes of peer rejection, the present study focused on the relation between these two variables. Specifically, this study was the first to test a hypothesized model connecting children’s level of receptive vocabulary knowledge to the extent to which they are rejected by their peers, through their ability to communicate effectively. A sample of N = 135 children (aged four to six) participated in the study. Their receptive vocabulary knowledge was assessed with the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, the level of oral communicative competence was measured using the Nijmegen Test for Pragmatics, and peer rejection was indicated by means of a nomination procedure. Research Findings: Outcomes of mediation analyses revealed that children’s receptive vocabulary knowledge was indirectly related to peer rejection, through oral communicative competence: Poor receptive vocabulary knowledge was associated with poor oral communicative competence, which was in turn related to a higher level of peer rejection. Gender was not a significant moderator in this model. Practice or Policy: Findings suggest the need to focus both on oral communicative competence and on receptive vocabulary knowledge when addressing peer rejection in kindergarten.
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This study examined the consistency of memories for the same events in mothers and children, and how that varied as a function of culture and organizational components of memories. European American (EA) and Chinese immigrant (CI) mothers and their 6-year-old children (N = 127) independently recalled two emotionally salient events. In both cultures, mothers and children agreed more on factual event details and observable behaviors and less on subjective experiences and idiosyncratic interpretations. EA mothers and children told more diverse stories than did CI mothers and children. The findings shed important light on autobiographical memory as a multidimensional construct shaped by cultural beliefs and practices, and have critical implications for the evaluation of memory accuracy in research and real-life settings.
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The purpose of this study was to report preliminary reliability and validity data from the Conversation Compass© Communication Screener (CCCS), a teacher-reported language screener intended to capture children’s skills related to classroom conversations with peers and teachers. Three preschool teachers completed the CCCS and the Child Observation Record (COR) for 36 students. Results indicated six subscales – literacy, clarity, social communication, decontextualized thinking, grammar, and negative communication behaviours – in the CCCS were reliable at Cronbach’s alphas of .71 or greater. Results also indicated its concurrent validity with the COR. Lastly, analyses indicated the screener was sensitive to maturation in conversation skills in that the measure was correlated with age. Implications are discussed in relation to how teachers can use this tool to inform their classroom practices.
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Purpose: The purpose of this systematic review was to determine what bilingual or home language interventions have been found to be effective for 2- to 6-year-old dual language learners who have language impairment (LI) or are at risk for LI. Method: We conducted ancestral searches and searches of electronic databases, hand-searched article bibliographies, and searched 19 journals for experimental, quasiexperimental, or single-subject studies. Results: The review yielded 26 studies that were coded for quality, frequency and duration of the intervention, number of participants, location of intervention, interventionist, language(s) of intervention, and reported or calculated effect sizes. Studies were grouped by those that focused specifically on at-risk populations and those that focused on children with LI. Emerging trends provide support for bilingual and/or home language interventions for both children with LI and those at risk for LI. Conclusions: There were relatively few studies that met inclusion criteria, and the average quality rating for a study was 6.8 out of 9.0 possible points. More high-quality research is needed, particularly with populations that speak languages other than Spanish. Clinicians need more evidence-based recommendations to improve the language and literacy outcomes of the diverse range of dual language learners served in the United States and abroad.
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Although research has identified oral language, print knowledge, and phonological sensitivity as important emergent literacy skills for the development of reading, few studies have examined the relations between these aspects of emergent literacy or between these skills during preschool and during later reading. This study examined the joint and unique predictive significance of emergent literacy skills for both later emergent literacy skills and reading in two samples of preschoolers. Ninety-six children (mean age = 41 months, SD = 9.41) were followed from early to late preschool, and 97 children (mean age = 60 months, SD = 5.41) were followed from late preschool to kindergarten or first grade. Structural equation modeling revealed significant developmental continuity of these skills, particularly for letter knowledge and phonological sensitivity from late preschool to early grade school, both of which were the only unique predictors of decoding.
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There is an increasing emphasis on supporting the oral language needs of children in the classroom. A variety of different measures have been developed to assist this process but few have been derived systematically from the available research evidence. A Communication Supporting Classrooms Observation Tool (CsC Observation Tool) for children aged 4–7 years (that is, in Reception and Key Stage 1 classrooms) was devised following a review of the research literature. The evidence derived from 62 research papers was rated based on the studies’ research design following specific rating criteria. Based on the review of the literature and rating of the evidence, three main areas were identified and included as dimensions in the CsC Observation Tool: Language Learning Environment, Language Learning Opportunities and Language Learning Interactions. A feasibility study was carried out in 101 classrooms in 39 schools across 10 local authorities in England. The results suggested that the CsC Observation Tool discriminated well between different age groups within the sample and between different schools. In addition, significant differences were found across the three dimensions of the CsC Observation Tool. For all year groups, scores for the Language Learning Environment dimension were significantly higher than scores for Language Learning Interactions, and scores for the Language Learning Interactions dimension were significantly higher than those for the dimension of Language Learning Opportunities. The study provided evidence for using the CsC Observation Tool in schools to support training and development. The tool has the potential to be used as a key feature in universal intervention studies to promote oral language in the classroom.
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The study examined the multivariate relationship between dimensions of preschool emotional and behavioral adjustment assessed at the beginning of the year by the Adjustment Scales for Preschool Intervention (ASPI) and multiple learning and social competencies at the end of the year with an urban Head Start sample. This study also examined the differential pattern of emotional and behavioral problems for children identified to receive services by Head Start staff. Results indicated that overactive dimensions at the beginning of the year predicted socially disruptive problems in the classroom at the end of the year. Underactive problem dimensions were associated with disengagement in play and poor emergent literacy and classroom learning outcomes. Findings indicated that Head Start staff under identified children with emotional/behavioral problems as a group, with a pattern toward identifying children with overactive needs. Children with underactive needs were least likely to be detected by the staff and were most at-risk for poor school readiness outcomes. Implications for policy, practice, and future research are discussed
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The present study investigated the effect of professional development (PD) on preschool teachers’ conversational responsivity in the classroom, defined as teachers’ use of strategies to promote children's participation in extended conversational exchanges (communication-facilitating strategies) and exposure to advanced linguistic models (language-developing strategies), and the resultant impact on proximal child language outcomes. We randomly-assigned 49 preschool teachers to receive 15–20 h of such PD (PD; n = 25) or to a comparison condition (n = 24). Growth curve analysis indicated that trained teachers used significantly more communication-facilitating strategies across the year but no such difference for language-developing strategies. Moreover, children in these classrooms showed greater linguistic productivity and complexity in their talk. These findings suggest that PD may alter some aspects of teachers’ conservational responsivity responsible for increasing the amount and complexity of child language. Alteration of some strategies, however, may require more intensive PD efforts.
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Teacher judgments of student learning are a key element in performance assessment. This study examines aspects of the validity of teacher judgments that are based on the Work Sampling System (WSS), a curriculum-embedded, performance assessment for preschool (age 3) to Grade 5. The purpose of the study is to determine if teacher judgments about student learning in kindergarten to third grade are trustworthy if they are informed by a curriculum-embedded performance assessment. A cross-sectional sample composed of 345 K-3 students enrolled in 17 classrooms in an urban school system was studied. Analyses included correlations between WSS and an individually administered psychoeducational battery, four-step hierarchical regressions to examine the variance in students’ spring outcome scores, and receiver-operating-characteristics (ROC) curves to compare the accuracy of WSS in categorizing students in terms of the outcome. Results demonstrate that WSS correlates well with a standardized, individually administered psychoeducational battery; that it is a reliable predictor of achievement ratings in K-3; and that the data obtained from WSS have significant utility for discriminating accurately between children who are at risk (e.g., Title I) and those who are not at risk. Further discussion concerns the role of teacher judgment in assessing student learning and achievement.
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The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care compared 3 statistical methods that adjust for family selection bias to test whether child care type and quality relate to cognitive and academic skills. The methods included: multiple regression models of 54-month outcomes, change models of differences in 24- and 54-month outcomes, and residualized change models of 54-month outcomes adjusting for the 24-month outcome. The study was unable to establish empirically which model best adjusted for selection and omitted-variable bias. Nevertheless, results suggested that child care quality predicted cognitive outcomes at 54 months, with effect sizes of .04 to .08 for both infant and preschool ages. Center care during preschool years also predicted outcomes across all models.
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A simple view of reading was outlined that consisted of two components, decoding and linguistic comprehension, both held to be necessary for skilled reading. Three predictions drawn from the simple view were assessed in a longitudinal sample of English-Spanish bilingual children in first through fourth grade. The results supported each prediction: (a) The linear combination of decoding and listening comprehension made substantial contributions toward explaining variation in reading comprehension, but the estimates were significantly improved by inclusion of the product of the two components; (b) the correlations between decoding and listening comprehension tended to become negative as samples were successively restricted to less skilled readers; and (c) the pattern of linear relationships between listening and reading comprehension for increasing levels of decoding skill revealed constant intercept values of zero and positive slope values increasing in magnitude. These results support the view that skill in reading can be simply characterized as the product of skill in decoding and linguistic comprehension. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of the simple view for the practice of reading instruction, the definition of reading disability, and the notion of literacy.
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This study examined the extent to which teacher responsivity education affected preschoolers' language and literacy development over an academic year. Additional aims were to determine whether children's initial language abilities and teachers' use of responsivity strategies were associated with language outcomes, in particular. In this randomized controlled trial, preschool centers were assigned to a responsivity education intervention (n = 19 centers, 25 teachers, and 174 children) or a "business-as-usual" control condition (n = 19 centers, 24 teachers, and 156 children). Teachers within the intervention centers received training focused on a set of strategies designed to promote children's engagement and participation in extended conversational interactions across the school day. Hierarchical linear models showed no main effects on children's language skills, although moderating effects were observed such that the intervention appeared to have positive effects for children with relatively high initial language abilities. In addition, teacher use of responsivity strategies was positively associated with vocabulary development. With regard to children's literacy skills, there was a significant main effect of the intervention on print-concept knowledge. Although teacher responsivity education is viewed as benefitting children's language and literacy development, the impacts of this type of intervention on children's skills warrant further investigation.
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The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a conversation intervention including 500 min of linguistically and cognitively complex talk on the expressive vocabulary growth of prekindergarten children. Children (N = 73) were randomly assigned to control or a 10-week experimental intervention condition. Twice weekly, children in the intervention condition received 25 min of intensive conversation with an adult emphasizing use of rare words, linguistic recasts, and open-ended questions. Expressive vocabulary was measured using the Expressive Vocabulary Test (EVT; Williams, 1997) and lexical diversity obtained through a language sample. Children in the intervention group showed greater growth on the EVT than controls. Children in the intervention group with low vocabulary at pretest also showed greater growth in lexical diversity than controls. Findings suggest that relatively small amounts of linguistically and cognitively complex conversation with a trained adult can be a useful strategy for improving the expressive vocabulary skills of children with low vocabularies.
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A major challenge to students learning science is the academic language in which science is written. Academic language is designed to be concise, precise, and authoritative. To achieve these goals, it uses sophisticated words and complex grammatical constructions that can disrupt reading comprehension and block learning. Students need help in learning academic vocabulary and how to process academic language if they are to become independent learners of science.
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The purpose of this study was to determine the predictive validity of teacher report for assessing the emergent literacy skills of preschool-age children. The aims were twofold: (a) to examine predictive relationships between teacher report and direct behavioral assessment, and (b) to examine the extent to which teacher report accurately differentiates children who are exhibiting low levels of emergent literacy skills relative to their peers. Forty-four preschool teachers completed a rating form reporting the print-related emergent literacy skills of 209 children who were enrolled in their classrooms. Approximately 2 months later, the children completed direct assessments of these skills. Correlations between teacher report and children's performance on direct behavioral assessments were positive, moderate to large in size, and statistically significant. In terms of classifying children into groupings based on risk (e.g., at risk, low risk), global teacher ratings demonstrated a sensitivity of 51.9% and a specificity of 87.9%. The present results indicate that teacher report provides a somewhat valid representation of children's skills. However, the diagnostic accuracy of teacher report for identifying children who are at risk is generally low. With this limitation in mind, teacher report can provide an important complement to current assessment approaches that are used in preschool settings.
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Theory and research on sex differences in adjustment focus largely on parental, societal, and biological influences. However, it also is important to consider how peers contribute to girls' and boys' development. This article provides a critical review of sex differences in several peer relationship processes, including behavioral and social-cognitive styles, stress and coping, and relationship provisions. The authors present a speculative peer-socialization model based on this review in which the implications of these sex differences for girls' and boys' emotional and behavioral development are considered. Central to this model is the idea that sex-linked relationship processes have costs and benefits for girls' and boys' adjustment. Finally, the authors present recent research testing certain model components and propose approaches for testing understudied aspects of the model.
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The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of a 2-day in-service education program for (a) promoting the use of two emergent literacy strategies by early childhood educators and (b) increasing children's responses to these strategies. Sixteen early childhood educators were randomly assigned to an experimental and a control group. The experimental in-service program sought to increase educators' use of abstract utterances and print references. Educators were videotaped with small groups of preschoolers during storybook reading and a post-story craft activity. Pretest and posttest videotapes were coded to yield rates of abstract language, verbal print references, and children's responses. In comparison to the control group, educators in the experimental program used more abstract utterances that elicited talk about emotions and children's past experiences during storybook reading. They also used significantly more print references during a post-story craft activity. In addition, children in the experimental group responded more often with appropriate responses to abstract utterances and print references in comparison to children in the control group. A 2-day in-service education program resulted in short-term behavioral changes in educators' use of abstract language and print references. Suggestions for improving instruction include providing opportunities for classroom practice with feedback, modeling the use of strategies in classroom routines, and long-term mentoring of educators to promote retention of gains.
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This study investigated predictive relations between preschoolers' (N=310) behavioral regulation and emergent literacy, vocabulary, and math skills. Behavioral regulation was assessed using a direct measure called the Head-to-Toes Task, which taps inhibitory control, attention, and working memory, and requires children to perform the opposite of what is instructed verbally. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was utilized because children were nested in 54 classrooms at 2 geographical sites. Results revealed that behavioral regulation significantly and positively predicted fall and spring emergent literacy, vocabulary, and math skills on the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement (all ps<.05). Moreover, growth in behavioral regulation predicted growth in emergent literacy, vocabulary, and math skills over the prekindergarten year (all ps<.05), after controlling for site, child gender, and other background variables. Discussion focuses on the role of behavioral regulation in early academic achievement and preparedness for kindergarten.
Article
Individual differences in young children's language acquisition reflect in part the variability in the language-learning environment that they experience, both at home and in the classroom. Studies have examined various dimensions of the preschool classroom language environment, including linguistic responsivity of early childhood educators, data-providing features of teachers’ talk, and characteristics of the systems-level general environment, but no study has examined the unique contribution of each dimension to children's language growth over time. The goals of this study were to determine how best to represent the dimensionality of the preschool classroom's linguistic environment and to determine which dimensions are most strongly associated with children's language development. Participants were teachers in 49 preschool classrooms and a random sample of children from each classroom (330 children between 40 and 60 months of age, M = 52 months, SD = 5.5). Children's grammar and vocabulary skills were measured at three time-points, and the classroom linguistic environment was assessed with measures representing teachers’ linguistic responsivity, data-providing features of teachers’ talk, and systems-level general quality. Using exploratory structural equation modeling (ESEM), we determined that the classroom language environment is best characterized by a three-dimensional model. A multilevel latent growth model subsequently showed that only one of the three dimensions, teachers’ communication-facilitating behaviors, predicted growth in children's vocabulary from preschool to kindergarten. Implications for teacher professional development are discussed.
Article
Developing and scaffolding academic language is an important job of preschool teachers. This Teaching Tip provides five strategies that extend the topic of academic language by integrating previous research and field-based data into classroom practice.
Article
Previous research has demonstrated that informant disagreement is common with the use of rating scales to assess problem behavior in school-age populations. However, much less is known about this phenomenon in preschool populations. This is important because the accurate assessment of problem behavior in preschool is complex due to the rapid developmental shifts during this period. As such, the purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of students at risk of behavior problems and to see whether these problems varied as a function of informant and ecological characteristics. Using the Behavior Assessment System for Children–Second Edition, we analyzed parent and teacher ratings for 320 preschool children. Results indicated that parent and teacher ratings were very similar, with males being rated as more at risk of having attention problems and social skill deficits in comparison with females. No differences were noted in at-risk status by ethnic group membership. Conversely, significant and consistent parent and teacher ratings were noted by socioeconomic status (e.g., parent education level). Implications are discussed for the prevention of problem behavior in preschool.
Article
This study documents the reliability and validity of a new infant–toddler authentic assessment, the Learning Through Relating Child Assets Record (LTR-CAR), and its feasibility of use by infant–toddler caregivers in an Early Head Start program. In a sample of 136 children, results indicated a strong internal structure of the LTR-CAR as evidenced by high internal consistency within age bands, expected performance in terms of the order of difficulty of items, and expected performance relative to the chronological ages of children. Moreover, the LTR-CAR accounted for a statistically significant amount of unique variance (between 6 and 26%), over and above age and gender, in six out of eight regressions predicting criterion measures. Given the increasing numbers of infants and toddlers in non-parental care, the need for authentic assessment as a tool to plan meaningful learning opportunities, as well as the lack of evidence-based authentic assessment options at the infant–toddler level, the LTR-CAR may provide a viable option for the field.
Article
The purpose of this study was to explore patterns of within-group variability in the emergent literacy skills of preschoolers who are at risk for academic difficulties. We used the person-centered approach of cluster analysis to identify profiles of emergent literacy skills, taking into account both oral language and code-related skills. Participants were 492 preschoolers (aged 42–60 months) enrolled in needs-based programs. In the fall of the academic year, children were administered eight measures of emergent literacy: four oral language measures (i.e., expressive and receptive grammar, expressive and receptive vocabulary) and four code-related measures (i.e., print concepts, alphabet knowledge, name writing, and rhyme). Controlling for age, hierarchical-agglomerative and K-means cluster analysis procedures were employed. Five psychometrically sound profiles emerged: highest emergent literacy (prevalence=14%); three profiles with average oral language and differential code-related abilities (16%, 24%; 23%); and lowest oral language with broad code-related weaknesses (23%). Profiles were then compared on midyear teacher ratings of emergent literacy as well as end-of-kindergarten literacy performance; results provided convergent evidence of predictive validity. This study highlights the considerable heterogeneity of emergent literacy abilities within an “at-risk” group. The resulting profiles have theoretical and practical relevance when examining both concurrent relationships between oral language and code-related skills as well as longitudinal relationships between early patterns of performance and later reading achievement.
Article
Preschool gender differences in problem-solving discourse were further investigated. Spontaneous task-related talk of 103 preschool children (53 boys and 50 girls) was analyzed for the frequency of collaborative speech acts to explore a possible link with greater help-eliciting among girls. Girls were nearly exclusive users of collaborative speech. Those who used collaborative speech initiated more verbal turns, used more help-eliciting and self-disclosing speech, but did not differ in task performance. Pragmatic development and quality of teacher-child interaction is discussed.
Article
Tested the hypothesis that the amount of verbal interaction with caregivers would be a salient index of daycare center quality, in that it would be a particularly important determinant of children's language skill. 166 36–68 mo old children and their parents from 9 daycare centers participated in this study. Quality of the daycare environment, as assessed by observation and items from the Day Care Environment Inventory, was predictive of all 4 measures of intellectual and language development, which included the PPVT and Preschool Language Assessment Instrument, after controlling for family background and current center care experience. The importance of verbal interaction with caregivers was also demonstrated. Ss from centers with high levels of caregiver speech performed better on tests of language development than Ss from centers with a high level of peer speech. The predictive power of other environmental variables was also investigated. (42 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The purpose of the study was to determine the contribution of family background and child care quality to preschool children's cognitive, language, and social development. One hundred 3- to 5-year-old children from 10 different child care centers participated. The mothers of each child were interviewed to obtain information regarding family background, and child care quality was measured via several state licensing instruments and the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (Harms & Clifford, 1980). Results revealed that family background variables were significant predictors of three measures of children's cognitive and language development. Child care quality variables significantly predicted social adjustment and were a marginal predictor of sociability.
Article
It is well established that monolingual preschoolers' oral language development (vocabulary and oral comprehension) contributes to their later reading abilities; however, less is known about this relationship in bilingual populations where children are developing knowledge of two languages. It may be that children's abilities in one language do not contribute to their reading abilities in their other language or that children's experiences with either language assist them in developing a common underlying proficiency that they draw upon when learning to read. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship among bilingual children's receptive language development and reading outcomes in first grade. Eighty-one bilingual children who were attending Head Start participated in the study. Growth curve models were used to examine the relationship between children's language abilities during two years in Head Start and reading outcomes at the end of first grade. Children's growth in both English and Spanish receptive vocabulary and oral comprehension predicted their English and Spanish reading abilities at the end of first grade within languages. Associations were also observed between languages with growth in English receptive language predicting Spanish reading comprehension and growth in Spanish receptive language predicting English reading comprehension.
Article
Indirect effects of preschool classroom indexes of teacher talk were tested on fourth-grade outcomes for 57 students from low-income families in a longitudinal study of classroom and home influences on reading. Detailed observations and audiotaped teacher and child language data were coded to measure content and quantity of verbal interactions in preschool classrooms. Preschool teachers' use of sophisticated vocabulary during free play predicted fourth-grade reading comprehension and word recognition (mean age=9; 7), with effects mediated by kindergarten child language measures (mean age=5; 6). In large group preschool settings, teachers' attention-getting utterances were directly related to later comprehension. Preschool teachers' correcting utterances and analytic talk about books, and early support in the home for literacy predicted fourth-grade vocabulary, as mediated by kindergarten receptive vocabulary.
Article
The cognitive and socioemotional development of 733 children was examined longitudinally from ages 4 to 8 years as a function of the quality of their preschool experiences in community child-care centers, after adjusting for family selection factors related to child-care quality and development. These results provide evidence that child-care quality has a modest long-term effect on children's patterns of cognitive and socioemotional development at least through kindergarten, and in some cases, through second grade. Differential effects on children's development were found for two aspects of child-care quality. Observed classroom practices were related to children's language and academic skills, whereas the closeness of the teacher-child relationship was related to both cognitive and social skills, with the strongest effects for the latter. Moderating influences of family characteristics were observed for some outcomes, indicating stronger positive effects of child-care quality for children from more at-risk backgrounds. These findings contribute further evidence of the long-term influences of the quality of child-care environments on children's cognitive and social skills through the elementary school years and are consistent with a bioecological model of development that considers the multiple environmental contexts that the child experiences.
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